Vermont Waste Facility Sues Insurer to Recover Payouts for Bad Compost

July 9, 2013

The Chittenden Solid Waste District that inadvertently sold compost contaminated with herbicides last year is suing its insurance carrier to help recover at least part of the more than $520,000 it has had to pay out.

In its lawsuit, the district said officials had believed the product liability coverage it had obtained through the Vermont League of Cities and Towns would have covered its losses from the compost contamination.

But the league refused the claim, citing a pollution-exemption clause in the policy.

“The nature of insurance coverage was open and known to CSWD, its agents and attorneys. As such there could not be any misrepresentation as to the coverage,” the league countered in its court filings.

Last year, the district discovered it had sold compost contaminated with persistent herbicides. It was determined the herbicides were in a variety of materials the district collected to make the compost, especially horse manure.

The district compensated 451 customers whose gardens and crops were damaged, The Burlington Free Press reported. District General Manager Tom Moreau said that so far the herbicide expenses totaled more than $520,000, a figure which includes refunds and damage payments and ongoing expenses.

In its lawsuit, the district is seeking at least $500,000.

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